Is the cowboy hat losing its cool in mainstream country? This week’s Friday Five playlist hosts the discussion.

1. “I Know a Guy” by Chris Young
Chris Young ditched the cowboy hat around 2011, and it has not appeared to hurt his career one bit. Radio personality Veronica Alfaro from WQYK-FM 99.5, a country music station in Tampa Bay, commented on Young’s decision. “People made a big deal out of Chris Young ditching his cowboy hat,” said Alfaro, “but it worked. I think he had, like, five number ones after that.”

Chris Young
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2. “Sangria” by Blake Shelton
American country music star and TV personality, Blake Shelton, is another country star who chose to go without the infamous cowboy hat. Up until the new millennium, if you were an artist trying to make it in this genre, odds are you were wearing a cowboy hat. Now, it seems that the artists who are making it to the top have ditched the hat as a means to stand apart as an artist. Shelton has not been seen in a cowboy hat on an album since his self-titled album released back in 2001.

Blake Shelton
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3. “Country Nation” by Brad Paisley
It is a very rare siting to see this man without his cowboy hat— sometimes I wonder if this man’s head has ever felt the breeze. Despite the increasing number of rising artists embracing the genre without the hat, Paisley has opted to keep his signature accessory on his head. Paisley’s image has remained constant from when he was entered into the industry with his 1999 debut album, Who Needs Pictures, which features the artist standing proudly in his cowboy hat. In fact, Paisley was one of only two artists (who were both older) on Billboard magazine’s most-played country songs list in mid-June that routinely wear a cowboy hat.

Brad Paisley
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4. “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” by Toby Keith
Big stars like Keith have made this accessory a part of their signature look, even though many others are rocking the same look. The Oklahoma native possibly adopted the headgear-wearing habit from his go at professional football in 1980 as a defensive end for the Oklahoma Sooners, or semi-pro for OKC. Whatever it was rubbed off on Keith, because it is a rare siting to see this man’s whole head. However, this music video from 2009 features many scenes of Keith without a hat – interesting.

Toby Keith
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5.”‘Devil Went Down to Georgia” by Charlie Daniels
Charles Daniels is still an active artist in country music beginning from the early 1950’s in North Carolina where he began writing. He was born in 1936, and therefore, represents a large timeline for country music trends. Daniels co-wrote Elvis Presley’s track,”It Hurts Me,” and helped artists like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Since then, Daniels has continued to impact the industry, gathered together the Charlie Daniels Band, and even takes action in politics all the while — you guessed it— still wearing a cowboy hat.

Charlie Daniels
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